Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Mechanical Engineering

I went to post this morning and discovered that, on the "create post" page, there was one of those annoying (and frequently difficult to get to work) "word verification" boxes. Therein lies a tale that might explain why Abbie of ERV (old and new) was locked out of her blog and the content disappeared for a time.

Clicking on a link entitled "Why do I have this?," I discovered that I had been declared an Enemy of the State ... er ... Blogger ... because "Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog."

Apparently, these robots can, on their own, decide to either "disable" your blog or, presumably if you are a lesser criminal like me, to demand that you dance ... er ... go through word verification.

I was "given" a chance to request a "review" by an actual person and am now redirected to a page that helpfully states:

Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog.

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

We received your unlock request on April 30, 2008. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.

Please be patient while I say your automated spam detection sucks.

Now, I have been blogging frequently about Expelled and, naturally, linking frequently to the NCSE site Expelled Exposed. That might explain why I was deemed a criminal. But Abbie posts much less frequently than I do and didn't link to Expelled Exposed nearly as often as I have. There is a much more disturbing possibility though. On that Blogger answer page, it notes:

The Flag as Objectionable button in the Navbar lets you notify us of problem blogs that you find, so we can review them and take appropriate action.

Report spam here.

If the automated spam detection takes into account people finding the blog "objectionable," there is a potential for manipulation by people opposed not to spam but to truth. Now who do we know like that who might also suffer from a certain lack of morality?

As you might guess, I've backed up my blog before airing this. You might find it interesting how I did it. If you bring up a month's archive and then right click on the page, a list of options will come up, including "view source." Clicking on that brings up a Word Pad window with the html for the entire page, including your template. Click on "Edit" and choose "select all" and then, also on "Edit," click "Copy" (or press "Control" and "C") and you've saved the page's html to your clipboard. Paste that into a blank page of any word processor you use and save that. This has the advantage of saving the html, with all the links, so you can easily recreate your content at any time. I was able to leisurely save two and a half years of blogging in less than an hour.

I never got a message in Blogger.

I never got a message from Blogger in my also-Google-run Gmail account.


4 am, Monday morning, ERV was deleted. And, I got the feeling from Mark that they were very hesitant to reinstate it (and old ERV is still delisted).

I still smell a rat. Nothing I can do about it... Except urge EVERYONE to back EVERYTHING up NOW.
I didn't get an email either. Apparently the only notification you get is at the "dashboard" page. Also, there was something about there being a "grace period" from when a blog was disabled until they delete it. If you happened not to check the dashboard during that (undefined) time ...

Still, you're absolutely right about backing up! They claim they believe in freedom of speech but it wouldn't be the first time that rats were in charge of the definition of "freedom."
And, btw, congratulations on moving to Scienceblogs!
John, you are teh awesome! You just saved this semi-literate computer user a long slog through the intertoobz looking for an easy way to back up my -ahem- priceless contributions to the public discourse.

Amazing, the things folks get up to when they're trying to hide from views they can't defend against.
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